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Friday 27 August 2004
Working abroad: James Eder
Written by James Eder, AIESEC member
James (centre) and friends at the 'global village'
James (centre) at the 'global village'

James Eder is sharing his business skills with local people in Colombia this summer.

He's travelling abroad with the AIESEC student organisation, and he's writing a regular diary on BBC Birmingham.


Stevie Cameron
Stevie's in The Philippines.
Diary 1
Diary 2
CSR Conference
Diary 3
Diary 4

Andrew Webster
Andrew's in India.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Culture Shock!
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

Jess Rudkin
Jess is working in the Czech Republic.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

James Eder
James is sharing his marketing skills with local people in Colombia.
Diary 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Diary 6 - Aims
Diary 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11
Diary 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
Diary 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

Working with AIESEC
Jame Eder introduces the student organisation.

AIESEC in Birmingham
Amaneeta Shokur explains more about AIESEC and how she is involved.

Scheila came to Birmingham from Brazil on a student scheme run by AIESEC.

Students index

Profile of the South American country from BBC News.

Follow James' travels on this map of Colombia from Lonely Planet.

James' photos
Check out James' prints online.

Official website for the UK.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.



Population: 44.2 million (UN, 2003)
Capital: Bogota
Major language: Spanish
Major religion: Christianity
Money: 1 Colombian peso = 100 centavos
Exports: Petrol, coffee, coal, gold, bananas, flowers, chemicals, emeralds, cotton,, sugar, livestock


AIESEC (pronounced "i-sek") stands for the Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce.

AIESEC is the world's largest international student organisation with 30,000 members in over 86 countries.

View a printable version of this page.
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Global village

Global village event
The England table

For the most of the weekend we were by the pool. The sessions were mostly in Spanish. However in the evening we had a 'global village' where each country represented had a stand with food, drink, pictures and anything else related to their country.

At AIESEC conferences, when there are different nations represented, there is usually a global village event. When I was in Sweden last year on a leadership development conference with AIESEC, there were over 20 nationalities all with their own stand. It was an amazing collection of people displaying their country's food and drink with everyone sharing and sampling each others.

Dan offers Marmite on bread
Fancy some Marmite?

This weekend, although the group was small, it was fun when us UK lot brought out the Marmite! We watched the locals try it, explaining they are likely to either love it or hate it. We also supplied some liquorice and whisky. Novella from Italy and Gregor from Germany shared some of their culture from their home towns also.

Catching the sunrise

The night continued with music and dancing into the early hours. A storm in the distance cooled the coastal air which was a nice change from the normal humidity in Barranquilla.

James at sunrise over the Caribbean sea
James at sunrise

On Sunday morning, I woke early at 5.30am to catch the sunrise which was definitely worth the hour less of sleep I got.

The rest of the day was spent by the pool again with a mix of Colombians between sessions in which they were learning about the exchange programme and what AIESEC does globally.

Dreaded mosquitoes

In the evening we returned to Barranquilla. Dan Juliet and I went out for an Italian meal.

I got an early night after a mostly sleepless weekend, only to wake in the night scratching my feet: I had been bitten over 15 times on both feet, after applying the after-bite spray I forced myself to go back to sleep. On Monday morning, going to work was painful. As I walked, it aggravating the bites. It was only when I sat down that the itching stopped.

The day went quickly, and before I knew it, the football hour was upon me. Dan Dos had already arrived as he had agreed to come and play football with me - he loves to play. I almost backed out as I was tired and my feet had only got more itchy and worse throughout the day in the end I decided however to overcome my fear and just go for it.

Overcoming fear of football

After getting changed, we discovered we were playing outside. OK, it's still at least 30 degrees... With Sonya's support throughout the day and pitchside, I decided that it really was not that bad and what was the worst thing that could happen?

Dan, Sonya and James
Dan, Sonya & James after football

Minutes into the game, already breathless and dripping with sweat, it only got easier. Never once calling for the ball, I tried my best and almost an hour and a half later the game was over.

Although I did not get any recognition there were a definite few goals where I had tapped the ball only moments earlier. Had I not been there, it would have been a different game. I like to think of life being like that sometimes, each of us playing a part. It is people along the way, not just the end people who score the goals who can make all the difference, whatever that may be!

When it rains, it pours!

Today there was another downpour. It was only the second downpour I'd seen here but the saying here is really true: "when it rains, it pours". Luckily we were already at university, avoiding the "arroyos" once again, where the roads turn to rivers.

Braving the rain
Braving the rain

To get to Café du Nord, where we eat lunch, we had to brave 40 metres in the rain. Being resourceful, we picked up some flat-packed cardboard boxes and headed over. Every few minutes the power went in the café and it soon began to flood. We couldn't believe it, water was gushing from under the door! The staff seemed unprepared but eventually attended to the problem by brushing the water away in a very uncaring manner.

The rain subsided before we had to walk back again. There was a mound of cardboard boxes outside the café. We weren't sure if people had seen us using them and copied us or that's that they normally did in that situation. We liked to think our genius had inspired them!

Work is consistent and it is sometimes hard to keep focussed. Now we have our proposal together, it's just a case of emailing companies and waiting for responses. With less than three weeks left now, we will visit the pre-schools again before we leave and give feedback to the foundation and present our analysis recommending further work.

The local way of selling

On the way home today, I noticed a seller get on the bus and climb over the turnstile barrier to sell sweets. Cleverly, he handed out sweets first to everyone and then came back to collect either the uneaten sweets or the money. I thought it is quite a clever idea: with the sweet in your hand, you're more likely to want to eat it.

Written by James Eder

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